Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Les Mis

The best present I have ever had. 

Recently I pitched an idea to my tutor (badly, I am terrible at pitching ideas) and he recommended looking at the 1968 May rebellion in Paris, I started reading up about it but I could not stop thinking of Les Miserables. 1968, a student rebellion, sparking the workers also to revolt, Les Mis also with a student rebellion in Paris. I thought I could not do a project based on the musical, as I would want to re-create it. To translate a theatre production into a fashion photograph could be risky, taking the story too literally or copying the costumes and producing a period drama. I decided what I liked the most about both revolutions was the idea of smoke, again a risky concept. Playing with smoke in photography can go terribly wrong, I have seen countless student shoots in the woods with smoke bombs that just don't make any sense. 

After my tutorial and thought progression I met with my stylist Emma, where I explained I liked the idea of smoke, models emerging from the smoke, and she mentioned flappers. After watching 'Some Like It Hot' I understood what she meant by the flapper clubs, smokey from cigarettes. I thought I had a basis of an idea, but going into another tutorial with another tutor I managed to crumble again and had no clue what I was pitching. After an emotional chat with an old friend I managed to pull myself together, talking of a possible idea and going to speak to the first tutor about what I was going to do for the project. 

Speaking to Conrad I said how I could do my project on the character Éponine who, in my opinion, is the most interesting character in the story. Below is her bio from the imdb:

Eponine is one of the most tragic characters in les miserables. growing up in a reasonably wealthy household, she was spoilt by her mother and ignored by her father. Her father was a dishonest inn keeper who found any way to scam customers and gain more money. Eponine grew up along side Cosette who was taken in by the family after Fantine promised to pay them. whilst fooling Fantine that cosette was ill they repeatedly got her to send money, and used cosette as a slave, whilst giving all the best to Eponine and her sister. When the family ran out of money however they moved to Paris and were very poor. Eponine's mother now showed no interest in her, and she was used only when her father wanted to scam someone or get some money. Whilst living in paris she falls in love with a student by the name of Marius Pontmercy, he however, never sees her more than as a friend, and falls for Cosette. Eponine, so in love with Marius does as he wishes and leads him to Cosette, and acts as a messanger between the two when Cosette is to leave for England, and Marius is to fight at the barricades. Whilst wondering the empty streets of Paris, on her way to give marius's note, she sings "on my own" and talks of the deep, unrequainted love she feels for Marius.

Upon returning to the barricades to give Marius cosette's note, she is fatally wounded. On her request, Marius holds her until she dies, here the two sing "a little fall of rain" and Eponine confesses her love to Marius just as she dies.

I think because Les Mis is a story of love, any character can be seen as inspirational, Cosette would be an easy character to use in a fashion shoot, showing the her story of poverty, rescue and how she falls in love with Marius. However I cannot connect with her. Éponine, on the other hand, is awkward and selfless, portrayed as a boyish character. She spends her time with Marius wishing he would love her, loving him so much that she ultimately dies for him. I am hesitant to explore this, as I question if this makes her a strong or weak women. The question of how to take a poor and unhappy woman and make it fashion will come up. Watching the recent documentary on Les Mis, they say how can a musical with the title miserables in be successful? So why can't I base an editorial on it?

My next step is to buy the book, and research in to Éponine's descriptions, to learn more about her. I saw the musical again in December for my 21st birthday, so it is still very fresh in my mind, however I want to watch the anniversary dvd for extra visuals and the 1998 film based on the book. I am feeling more confident about the project, I think because Les Mis does mean a lot to me I could get really into my concept. I am hoping it makes my work emotionally powerful. 

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